Snowflake embroidery, also known as Amish embroidery, depression lace, gingham tracks and chicken scratch, is a traditional craft used for many purposes, including embellishing clothes and making pillows. Most commonly created on 1/8-inch or 1/4-inch checked grid gingham, snowflake stitching uses only three stitches. Combined with the easy-to-see grid, this makes it a perfect project for learning to embroider.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Gingham fabric
- Masking tape
- Embroidery hoop or stitching frame
- Embroidery floss
- Embroidery needle
- Fusible interfacing
Cut the fabric at least 3 inches larger on all sides than the finished size of your pattern.
Tape the edges with masking tape to prevent fraying. Alternately, you can apply a commercial fray stop liquid, zigzag stitch the edges, or machine-stitch a rolled hem on the sides.
Fold the fabric in half vertically, wrong side out, matching the edges. Fold it horizontally. Mark the centre of the fabric -- the folded corner -- with a lightly pencilled plus sign.
Place the fabric in the hoop, centring it with the right side up. Tighten the screw to hold the fabric taut.
Cut a 24-inch length of embroidery floss. Separate the floss into 2-thread strands for 1/8-inch gingham or 3-thread strands for 1/4-inch checks. Thread one strand through the eye of the needle.
Follow the arrows on the rows and columns of your pattern to find the centre. Begin stitching at that point, following the symbols shown in the pattern key.
Bring the needle up from the back of the fabric at one corner of the square upon which you will make the first stitch. Do not make a knot in the thread. Instead, leave a 2-inch tail under the fabric. Hold that tail in place so that the first several stitches go over it and hold it in place.
Remove the tape from the edges when you have completed the design.
Stabilise your stitching by fusing the interfacing to the wrong side with your iron.
Bring the needle up at the top left corner of a coloured square on the gingham. Pass it to the back of the fabric at the corner diagonally opposite.
Slide the needle up at the top right corner of the same square and insert it at the bottom left corner. This will make an "X," or cross-stitch.
Bring the needle up halfway between the top corners and down on the side opposite. Repeat, beginning at the left side and ending on the right. This will make a "+" over the cross-stitch.
Continue making all the double cross stitches indicated on the pattern, always making the individual stitches in the same order.
Weave the thread under several stitches on the backside and cut it.
Double Cross Stitch
Bring the needle up at the centre top or centre left of a white square, depending on the stitch direction indicated on the pattern.
Pass the needle to the back at the centre bottom or centre right of the same square.
Continue making running stitches as indicated by the pattern. Remember that running stitches should always be on the white squares.
Make four running stitches, each on adjoining white squares, leaving one coloured square in the middle.
Bring the needle up at the same spot where you ended the first running stitch.
Pass the needle and floss under all four of the running stitches twice, moving clockwise.
Insert the needle in the same hole where you began and pull it to the back of the fabric.
Continue with the remaining woven circles on the pattern.
Weave the thread under the backside of several stitches to hold it in place. Cut the floss.
Woven Circle Stitch
Tips and warnings
- Use the same stitching techniques on Aida, hardanger or other gridded or checked fabrics.
- Knot the threads if you plan to wash the embroidered item frequently.
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- West Virginia University Extension Service; Traditions Continue...What Is Chicken Scratch Embroidery?; Janice Heavner and JoAnn Dever; 2007
- University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension; Chicken Scratch Embroidery; Mary Hixson; October 2004
- Needle 'n Thread; Chicken Scratch -- Embroidery on Gingham; Mary Corbet; June 2007